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Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby Stretch » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:02 pm

Route description: Tolmount and Tom Buidhe via Loch Callater

Munros included on this walk: Tolmount, Tom Buidhe

Date walked: 11/10/2010

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 27 km

Ascent: 841m

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4am Monday morning . . . scratch, scratch, pidder padder, pidder padder, scratch, scratch . . . silence.
Oh not again! Turn on the head torch, scan the room, where could the varmin be? Out of the corner of my eye something flickers. Great, its in my rucksack. Jump out of the sleeping bag, on with the boots, aim light into rucksack . . . Egads! Mouse jumps right past my face and darts into the blackness of the bothy. 'And don't come back!' I yell.

5:30am . . . crunch, crunch, scratch, thump . . . '$#@% this thing has landed on my bunk!' Up I jump with a flash, light on, heart racing like a 9 year old little school girl . . . I hate mice. No sign of the bugger. Too much paranoia to try and sleep another hour. Screw it, time for hot chocolate. That vicious beast had better not be in my sleeping bag!

Rewind to 6pm Sunday evening. After a nice evening walk in, I'm the only person at the Callater Stable bothy along the shores of Loch Callater. Ok, so I'm not going to have anyone to chat with, but I brought a book and stuff for a hot drink. After taking the obligatory snapshots of Loch Callater at dusk I retreated to the bothy and set up for the night. Lit a few candles, spread out the sleeping bag, kicked on the MSR stove, and started reading the bothy sig book. Seems several people have been hearing scratching noises in the ceiling. Oh great, mice. Another person wrote that they thought the bothy was haunted, nice. I'm an hour from the car, no one around, and there are mice and ghosts.

After food and hot chocolate it was time for some good reading. Bothy book of choice . . . the Hobbit. Yeah I know, its practically a kids book, but it never gets old. In bed by 9 and read another chapter by candlelight. I was warm and cozy so at least I had that going for me. Once I settled down and stopped moving I started hearing everything that goes bump in the night. It sounded like the horse outside was trying to come in. Maybe he wanted his old stable back? I could hear stags calling in the distance, do they ever shut up during the rut?

Then, around 10pm, it started. The reports of the scratching noises were true enough. Still, I don't feel threatened just yet. Back to sleep. Every hour after that I wake up to scratching noises. The mice are surely toying with me. I turn on the light and search the room, kicking my feet to make some noise of my own in the hope of scaring the intruders away. I still managed to get bits of sleep here and there despite my growing paranoia. This was my first night ever in a bothy and at 4am it became memorable.

Mr Mouse got the better of me during my first bothy trip. He tried to ransack my rucksack. He even crapped on my map case and my Walkhighlands route description print out. The nerve of that rodent. I swore to myself to carry mousetraps the next time I decide to stay in a bothy. Thankfully, I had a walk to do this morning, Tolmount and Tom Buidhe, and all signs pointed to a cloud inversion.

At 7am I headed down the path by the misty loch. It was cold, but there was no wind and the loch was perfectly still. Stags were making racket all around me but I couldn't spot any. At the back end of the loch I turned around to see the clouds easing up the glen toward me. The clouds seemed to stop just past Coire Loch Kander and at that point I saw the first gleamings of the morning sun. I made my way through Jocks Road, er bog, and made the slog up the slopes to the plateau before turning right and making for the summit of Tolmount. From Tolmount the full scope of the inversion came into view. Everything east of me was covered in low cloud, but the sun blasted my camera lens with too much light. North to the Cairngorms was impressive, with the clouds snaking through all the glens and low areas between me and Ben Macdui. Beyond Glas Maol the cloud covered all areas to the south. Sadly, the hills surrounding me blocked the cloud from making it to Tolmount, but it was still an impressive sight.

After a quick descent, I was on Tom Buidhe in under 30 minutes. I didn't waste much time at the summit though as I started looking for the path that would take me around the circuit described on the site. Hmmm, there is no path so to speak. What followed was a long, long, brutal slog across some nasty ground in order to reach the track near Carn a Tuirc. Nothing but mud, rabbits, and grouse up on the plateau. I was at least rewarded with the sight of a large herd of deer. It was some relief reaching the good track that took me all the way back to the bothy. The cloud inversion showed no sign of fading. A few more pics from higher up and then quickly down I went.

Back at the bothy I related the story of Mr Mouse to three nice older gents having lunch on the benches out front. After a few laughs and a good chat I headed swiftly back to the car, praying all the way that I wasn't carrying a mouse back to St Andrews in my rucksack, sleeping bag, or coat pocket. This was actually a pretty fun time despite the interuptions at night and the bog in various places along the circuit. Not sure if I'd do the circuit again though, it was rough, and I wouldn't want to be in that mess in bad weather. The cloud inversion was nice, maybe a bit too far away for great photos, but awesome none the less. In Braemar the car thermometer read 16c! When I passed the Glen Shee Ski Center on my way home I rounded a corner and ran smack into the cloud bank, nuts! Below the cloud the temp was 6.5c. A strange ending to a strange trip!


Disclaimer: No mice were harmed in the making of this trip report.

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Callater Burn.jpg

A calm Loch Callater.jpg

Loch Callater from the bothy.jpg

Callater Stable bothy.jpg

Loch Callater Pano.jpg

A misty start.jpg

Fog over Loch Callater.jpg

Thin cloud over Loch Callater.jpg

Coire Loch Kander.jpg

Tolmount Summit.jpg

Loch Callater from Tolmount.jpg

Clouds to the south from Tom Buidhe.jpg

Nasty Stuff.jpg

The Herd.jpg

Cairngorms Cloud Inversion.jpg

Ben Avon.jpg
Fall Colors at the Callater Lodge.jpg
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby Merry-walker » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:11 pm

that must be sum alternate universe or something, I just don't think we were in the same place hun..... :wtf:

think I'm gonna b sad....

gorgeous pics darlin'
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby mountain coward » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:14 pm

:lol: Hilarious report! Lovely pics too, especially the calm ones of the lovely Loch Callater - how they could call it 'an insipid stretch of water' in 'Mountain Days and Bothy Nights' I don't know! P.S. there's a great tale in that book about the Callater Poltergeist - you should read it :D
mountain coward

Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby LeithySuburbs » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:31 pm

Great read Stretch :D . Love the Loch Callater pictures and the inversion ones 8) .

I've learned to keep my bag tight shut when in bothies :lol: . Fortunately, I'm a deep sleeper.
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby kinley » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:40 pm


We did agree - first to see an inversion gets the first round in at the Clachaig? Mine's a pint of Blaven 8)

Woo-hoo - the real walking has started - you've fired the starter's gun :lol:

Summer is dead - long live winter :D

Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby walk aboot » Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:42 pm

Those photos are amazing, stretch, really love the second one :D

Stretch versus the mouse...er, think the mouse won :D :lol: . Terrific description.
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby malky_c » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:08 am

Nice trip. Reminds me of a very similar one I did a few years ago, in similar conditions: link

I don't remember any specific mouse issues, but there is usually one scrabbling around somewhere in every bothy. I always hang my stuff from the ceiling.
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby Stretch » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:18 am

Cheers gang for the comments.

Kinley, I have made a mental note of your order, although the 16d heat didn't exactly say 'winter' to me yesterday. I shudder to think of the price of a round for the whole WH gang, but I will make sure to rob a bank on my way across from St Andrews :lol: I'm going to need some extra money for mousetraps anyways.
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:15 am

I too am well aquainted with the Callater moose, though the horse does seem more intrusive. One dark winter night I lay in Callater stable, huddled in my sleeping bag. I had hot drinks, candles and a radio to keep me company. I switched it on for the comforting sound of a human voice, only to tune into a news story about a school which had got an exorcist in to rid them of a troublesome ghost ! :shock:
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Re: Loch Callater Bothy - Stretch vs. The Mouse

Postby kevsbald » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:15 am

Murine troubles! Good one Stretch.
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